Ralph Nader Campaigns to Increase Federal Minimum Wage to 1968 Level

Here’s a summary of the week’s news, compiled by Bob Nixon:

* In the Kween district of eastern Uganda, local women fit into two camps “circumcised” and “uncircumcised”. The dividing line is not only clinical, but social and demographic. (“Campaign against female genital mutilation gaining ground support, results,” Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 6, 2013)

* Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates are “endocrine disruptors” which interfere with the human hormone system and is linked to human diseases such as asthma, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer. (“Buying local and organic? You’re still eating plastic chemicals,” Mother Jones, March 4, 2013)

* Since the mass shooting at Newtown, Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in mid-December, the Obama administration has released $150 million dollars to assist school districts to hire a thousand on-campus police or counselors. A growing number of state legislatures are now debating how to shift money around to put more cops in schools. (“Post-Newtown worries over security conflict with concerns that school cops are putting too many kids in the criminal justice system,” Center for Public Integrity, March 5, 2013)

Featured Interviews

Interview with Ralph Nader, citizen activist and former Independent presidential candidate, conducted by Scott Harris.

On a bright winter morning, citizen activist and four-time independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader gathered with 12 other people in front of the Walmart store in Torrington, Conn. The Connecticut native, who grew up in nearby Winstead, organized the Walmart picket to kick off a national grassroots campaign to demand an increase in the federal minimum wage. Although President Obama during his Feb. 12 State of the Union address called for a rise in the minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $9.00, indexed to inflation, Nader says that moving to a $10.50 minimum wage should be the goal to catch up with the actual value of the minimum wage in 1968.

Activists Educate Public on the Destruction of Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

Excerpt of a speech by Paul Corbit Brown and Elise Keaton, activists with Keeper of the Mountains Foundation, recorded and produced by Melinda Tuhus.

The fight to end mountaintop removal coal mining in central Appalachia is a part of the bigger campaign to end coal extraction altogether, as it is the most polluting fossil fuel, both in terms of greenhouse gases and in its devastating health and environmental impacts. In the past decade, coal has dropped from providing 50 percent of the electricity used in the U.S. to a little over 35 percent, mostly replaced by natural gas. Renewable power sources also claim a small but growing share of energy production.

Questions Linger on the Conduct of Newly Named Pope Francis During Argentina’s Brutal Military Dictatorship

Interview with Robert Parry, investigative journalist and editor of ConsortiumNews.com, conducted by Scott Harris.

With the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI, and the recent election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the Catholic Church’s first Latin American and Jesuit Pope, disturbing questions have been raised about the new pontiff’s conduct during the reign of Argentina’s brutal military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983. As part of Argentina’s Catholic hierarchy at the time, Father Bergoglio reportedly remained silent about the military junta’s repression of suspected leftists and dissidents that resulted in an estimated 30,000 deaths through torture, execution and “disappearance.”

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